Events

Free training targets agricultural business

CARIBOU, Maine — Northern Maine Development Commission will offer free business training workshops late this fall and winter to prospective agricultural producers and those already in the industry.

In addition to subjects such as accounting basics, financing and business planning, the sessions will focus on governmental programs, particularly those offered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced cooperative agreements to educate producers, including those who have been historically underserved by USDA programs, about Farm Service Agency programs that provide financial, disaster or technical support. NMDC received funding to provide educational services to agricultural producers in Aroostook County.

The number of Maine farmers aged 34 and younger grew by nearly 40 percent in the five years from 2007 to 2012, the last time the USDA did a comprehensive agriculture census. That growth surge — from 396 to 551 young farmers — far surpassed the 1.5 percent increase in the numbers of young farmers in the United States. A new USDA census of agriculture is underway right now, but statistics won’t be available until next year.

“With an increase in younger and startup producers, there is a need for additional business skills and knowledge of government programs, which can be of tremendous value to the agricultural community,” said Alain Ouellette, planning and development director at NMDC. “NMDC has designed a series of five workshops, held at various locations throughout the region, to provide information about FSA programs, all while giving producers additional skills to better manage their business.”

The first workshop is on accounting practices and will be held in Island Falls Monday, Nov. 13, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Topics will include bookkeeping and the accounting process, tax planning and preparation. A general overview of FSA programs will also be on the agenda, while an in-depth look at the agency’s individual programs will be incorporated at the other training sessions.

The second workshop is tentatively set for Dec. 5 at the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum in Littleton. Other sessions are planned for Frenchville, Fort Fairfield and Caribou in early 2018.

“Any producer or would-be producer is encouraged to attend these free sessions, but in case a person can’t make all of them, the workshops are being recorded for viewing on the NMDC webpage and one on one counseling can be requested from staff at NMDC,” added Ouellette.

For more information on these sessions, or to be added to the electronic mailing list for future announcements, contact Jon Gulliver, director of investor and community relations, at 493-5851 or by email at jgulliver@nmdc.org.

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